The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) plans to take a closer look at how optimising vessel operations together with LNG-fuelling can bring cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions closer to the IMO's 2050 target.

The move by the industry body comes after the results of a pilot study that showed savings can be boosted to between 30% and 40%.

The move by the industry body comes after the results of a pilot study that showed GHG savings can be boosted to between 30% and 40%.

GHG research

SGMF general manager Mark Bell said that the trial, for an unnamed North American ferry operator, saw equipment installed onboard to study the effects of switching to LNG fuelling. The operator then decided to examine how other aspects of its operations affected emissions reductions.

Factors included speed, whether the vessel — which was on a back-to-back service — was running with or against the current, the time of day, the number of cylinders it was operating on and the waiting time at port entry.

“On a 24-hour basis, their emissions reduced significantly — up in the 30% to 40% region,” Bell said.

He said SGMF’s environment committee will be looking at this pilot as a case study for its next investigation into operations optimisation for other ship sectors using LNG as a fuel, including cruiseships, containerships, tankers and bulkers.

On a 24-hour basis, their emissions reduced significantly — up in the 30% to 40% region

Mark Bell

Slow-steaming

"At the moment, you can’t get anywhere near 2050 target without using 'rocket fuel',” he joked, referencing SGMF’s recent North America Forum and a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, where LNG and hydrogen were in use.

“We have got to have some tangible means to do this.”

Bell, who had sat through the IMO’s recent Marine Environmental Protection Committee meeting, in which slow-steaming was a hot topic, said speed is only part of the solution.

“It’s about a lot more than that. It is the whole logistics chain,” he said.

“There is a huge scope there for maritime to reduce its footprint,” Bell added, describing the number of operational variants as "infinite".

The move to focus on operational efficiencies in combination with LNG-fuelling follows the release of the results from a major “well-to-wake” study commissioned by SGMF and industry coalition SEA\LNG in April.

Reducing emissions

This research, conducted by an outside consultancy and independently reviewed, showed using LNG as a marine fuel had the potential to cut GHG emissions by up to 21% along the entire gas chain, from production to burning the fuel in a ship’s engine.

Specifically, the study showed that the emissions reduction for LNG-fuelled engines compared with those running on heavy fuel oil today are between 14% and 21% for two-stroke, slow-speed engines and 7% to 15% for four-stroke, medium-speed engines.

SGMF was set up in 2013 and now has 136 members. Malaysian energy giant Petronas has recently joined.